Why does Russia start MiG-35 production, delaying the superior Su-75

MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Russia has announced that the Mikoyan MiG-35 Fulcrum-F is entering serial production. A new batch of it will be produced in the coming years. Currently, the Russian Aerospace Forces [VKS] have eight MiG-35s – six serially produced and two test ones.

The Russia's MiG-35 'downed' the French fighter Rafale from Indian market
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Many Russian experts assume that the MiG-35 will delay the production of the Su-75. For the past two years, Moscow has called the Su-75 Checkmate “superior.” However, the Su-75 is still in the process of producing the first prototypes. There are no ground tests, let alone flight tests, which is understandably impossible at this stage.

BulgarianMilitary.com’s analysis that the Su-75 will most likely not go into production may come true. Multifunction machines are coming to the fore again. As many of them as possible – also. At least for the Russian VKS. Especially in light of the confrontation in Europe right now.

Why was the MiG-35 stopped in 2016?

The United Aircraft Corporation [UAC] did not provide details on the upcoming production of the MiG-35. But just the news of it is causing discussion. In 2016, Russia phased out the MiG-35. Many reasons then. First – increased costs, second – getting rid of the conditional “diversity” in the VKS. Third – lack of zero unification between the families of Sukhoi and Mikhoyan. Fourth – complex logistics.

In 2016, some Russian experts thought it was right to design new fighter jets. This is how competition is born. Even if the designs are not accurate, a new product can be born from new and old designs.

But today Russia is in a different economic situation. It is much more complex, and Moscow’s decision to resume MiG-35 production may be the right one. Better to focus on one thing, say the Russian media.

Something positive

But there must be some positives to the MiG since it was decided to go back to it? And actually, there are quite a few of them. From a redesigned and seriously improved airframe to a completely new electronic filling, and open architecture. This solution allows in the shortest possible time to adapt all new weapons that the fighter can pick up.

Why does Russia start MiG-35 production, delaying the 'superior' Su-75
Photo credit: UAC

But the main feature is often called the updated Zhuk-A radar with AFAR. It is currently key to Russian aviation. Specifically, this radar cannot boast high-performance characteristics. However, its capabilities are within the limits of a similar station to the American F-16. I.e. working distance limit of about 200 kilometers.

In addition, the MiG-35 is cheap to maintain, and in a large series. Some experts believe that the Russian air force should consist of one-third of heavy aircraft and two-thirds light aircraft. Maximum efficiency is achieved with such a ratio. And today, for Russia, exactly these pediments will be essential and play a major role.

The Su-75 enters the scene

Another multirole fighter appears on the scene, which can seriously compete with the “thirty-fifth” – the Su-75. It has a larger list of benefits. For example, a scheme with one engine. Yes, reliability is declining and this approach was abandoned back in the 1990s. However, Russia realizes that with proper maintenance, the lack of a second engine is not a problem.

At the same time, the price of the Su-75 as a whole has been seriously reduced, its maintenance has been simplified, etc. In terms of most characteristics, it came close to the MiG-35. And that in the absence of a second engine. First, the Su-75 is a stealth combat aircraft. Stealth is an advantage against outdated anti-aircraft systems and their radars. Secondly, in the case of an order for VKS, the main “chip” can be the Belka radar. It is claimed to have unsurpassed characteristics.

Just for comparison – Zhuk-A sees a target measuring 5 square meters from a distance of 200 kilometers. But Belka can detect an object five times smaller from a distance of up to 400 kilometers. Multiple increases in capabilities were successfully demonstrated during real air battles, where the Su-57 used the R-37M from a maximum distance of 400 km.

Su-75 Checkmate fixes F-117A weaknesses and may get a vector jet nozzle
Photo credit: Secret Projetc Forum

Even if the Su-75 has to halve its capabilities due to size and other nuances, it will still be better than the Zhuk-A. The third and no less important point is the maximum unification with the existing fleet. This affects many of the points described above, the key of which is price.

The conclusion

The Su-75 is a very, very promising machine in terms of mass production. However, the MiG-35 has a key advantage – it is already in the series and has been adopted by the industry, which can play a key role.

There is still no unequivocal opinion about the Su-75 since none of the prototypes has yet flown. Russia hopes to mass produce the Su-75 by the end of this decade.

Apparently, until then, the MiG-35 is the compromise option. We’ll live and see, but the chances of the Su-75 ever going into serial production at all are diminishing with each passing day.


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